I love a story where the setting is one of the characters. Whether it’s a quirky small town or a frenetic city, I’m always more intrigued by stories where the scenery is more than backdrop for the scene.
As writers, we tend to focus on world-building when we’re crafting sci-fi, fantasy, or paranormal stories because those sub-genres demand painstaking attention to detail in order to make the story possible. In less-speculative worlds, setting is sometimes used as a giant ‘You are here’ marker. An intrinsic sense of place can be easy to lose in the story-telling aspect of more contemporary or reality-based works.
I am always drawn to works where the setting is more than just a place.
In the television show The Gilmore Girls, Stars Hollow, Connecticut is a character itself. Yes, the show was populated with vivid characters, but the town itself played an integral role. The gazebo in the square was more than just window dressing; it was a touchstone for characters and viewers alike. AMC’s Mad Men is New York and Madison Avenue through and through. There advertising agencies in Chicago or L.A. at that time, but who wants to watch a show about them? The red earth of Tara calls to me just like it pulled Scarlett O’Hara home time and time again because I identify with her desire to recapture the youth and innocence she left there.
There’s nothing I love more than being whisked away by a novel. It doesn’t matter if I’m roaming the Scottish Highlands with a kilt-wearing hottie, strolling the exquisite grounds at Pemberley on Mr. Darcy’s arm, or jet setting through the 70’s and 80’s with Judith Krantz or Danielle Steel, I’m happy as a clam.
What is it about a story’s setting that creates an indelible mark in your memory? Where have your favorite stories, shows, or movies taken you?